[OPE-L:2273] nature, value and wealth

From: Gerald Levy (glevy@PRATT.EDU)
Date: Sat Jan 22 2000 - 08:35:26 EST

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Re Chris's [OPE-L:2272]:

> IMO this is a muddle; esp. point two. This conflates two quite different
> classifications: the factors *of* production and the inputs *to*
> production. Only the latter take a value form.

I don't "get" this point, Chris, since according to marginalist theory
(as I am sure you are aware) the value-creating "factors of production"
[land, labor, capital -- although some particular vulgar texts also
include "entrepreneurial ability"] *are* [resource] inputs in the
production process.

What I find interesting, in part, about Geert's answer to the "Why"
question is that it attempts in part to directly confront that theory.

> G's version of this makes no sense because it drags in the extraneous
> question of whether the nature is appropriated or not which has nothing to
> do with use value production.

I guess that depends on what you mean by the appropriation of nature.
Consider a drying process (e.g. of fish) that uses the power of the Sun.
This does not require that the producer "own" or lay claim to the Sun or
its rays. Yet, nature is in a sense appropriated here [gratis] to the
degree that it is deliberately and consciously used by producers and
becomes an integral part of the use-value production of that product.

> Moreover this means he falsely concludes that
> the two factors coming from outside are unappropriated nature and labour
> (power) {NB why this uncertain slippage from 'labour' to 'labour (power)'?}
> whereas appropriated nature also comes from outside.

I think Geert's point here is that nature is brought into the circuit
*if and when* it is appropriated.

> As Marx quotes Petty
> wealth comes from Labour and Land (all land not just unappropriated
> land).

He discusses this issue also in "Marginal Notes to the Programme of the
German Workers Party." But, note well, that Marx *doesn't* say labour and
nature are the source of all value.

Speaking, I think, to the question of appropriation, he writes:

         "And in so far as man *from the beginning* behaves towards
          nature, the primary source of all instruments and subjects of
          labour, as an *owner*, treats her as belonging to him, his
          labour becomes the source of use-values, therefore also of
          wealth" (emphasis added, JL)

> Now to point 3 where the origin of value is discussed. Geert starts with
> his two things coming from outside. Apart from the fact his two things are
> wrongly described as I just said, he makes to me the quite extraordinary
> deduction that because unappropriated nature does not take a value form
> therefore it cannot be a source of value. Greens would certainly be up in
> arms at this, and I too would have thought that intuitively anything
> productive which the capitalist gets for free is almost certain to explain
> where new value comes from.

Again: I think it depends on the meaning here of "appropriation". As for
the meaning of "value" in Green theory, it is very different from the way
we have used the term (cf. Alain Lipietz's _Green Hopes_). Perhaps we can
discuss that if others wish ...

> and appropriated nature with a rent reward.

This assumes a particular social relationship to nature such as privately
appropriated land. Yet, the Sun and the Wind (and other natural forces)
can be appropriated by people without necessarily being privately and
exclusively owned by individuals.

In solidarity, Jerry

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